EXODUS

[This is not a lifeless paraphrase of the biblical narrative. The poet centres his attention on the coming out of Egypt, on the situation of the Israelites trapped between their foes and the sea, and on the overwhelming of the pursuing host.]

Lo! we have heard far and near over the world of the judgments of Moses, the wondrous laws for the generations of men, of recompense in heaven after death for the evils of life for all the righteous, enduring benefit for all the living. Let him who will, hearken! The Lord of hosts, the true King, honoured him in the wilderness by his own might, and the eternal Ruler of all gave him power to do many marvels. He, the prince of the people, shrewd and wise guide of the host, bold leader, was loved by God. He afflicted the race of Pharaoh, God's foe, when the Lord of victories delivered the life of his kinsmen to the brave leaders, the occupation of the land to the sons of Abraham. Great was the guerdon, and the gracious Lord gave him mighty weapons against the assault of foes; he overthrew in battle the power of many hostile kinsmen. Then was the first time1 that the God of hosts addressed him in words, when He told him many marvels, how the wise Lord had wrought this world, the orb of the earth, and in His triumph had established the heavens, and His own name2 which the children of men, the wise race of fathers, knew not before, though they knew much. Then by true powers He had strengthened and honoured the prince of the host,3 the foe of Pharaoh, in his departure, when not long before the greatest of nations had been stricken with bitter torments, with death. Mourning was renewed at the fall of their keepers of treasure; joys in hall passed away with the loss of possessions; at midnight He had boldly struck down the evildoers, many first-born children, had slain the watchmen; the destroyer stalked far and wide, the hated foe of the people; dark grew the land with bodies of the slain. The host set forth; there was lamenting far and wide, little rejoicing. The hands of

____________________
1
The meaning seems to be that while Moses was in the wilderness God told him the story of Creation.
2
See Exodus iii. 13-14.
3
Moses.

-112-

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Anglo-Saxon Poetry
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